Archive for February, 2011

Rodeo Houston Parade Gallops Into Downtown
February 27, 2011

The 73rd annual Houston Rodeo Parade drew thousands of  people to downtown Houston Saturday to watch riders on horseback, clowns, floats and marching bands.

Country music singer Clay Walker served as the parade’s grand  marshal. 

Other familiar faces included: County Judge Ed Emmett and  wife Gwen, Houston’s fire and police chiefs and other elected officials.

KPRC Local 2 anchor Dominque Sachse, Sports Director Randy McIlvoy, Reporter Carl Willis and I rode in a chuckwagon along the parade route.

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Actor Charles S. Dutton Performs In Houston
February 27, 2011

I remember him best as the lead actor in the comedy/drama series Roc, but Charles S. Dutton is a seasoned award-winning actor and producer/director who has a career spanning theater, television and film.

On Saturday night, Houston was honored with Dutton’s presence and the outstanding performance of his critically acclaimed play, From Jail to Yale, Serving Time on Stage.

The play chronicles Dutton’s life story from the streets of Baltimore to the Yale School of Drama.

The performance took place at the University of  Houston Cullen Performance Hall and was held in partnership with the U.S. Dream Academy and the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Founded by renowned gospel singer Wintley Phipps, the U.S. Dream Academy focus on impacting the lives of children with incarcerated parents and their children falling behind in school.

At the conclusion of the play, Dutton answered questions from the audience and later signed autographs and talked with fans at a private reception.

Some of  Dutton’s many other credits include episodic appearances in House, The Sopranos and the HBO series Oz.  He won Emmy’s for his guest-starring roles in Without a Trace and The Practice.

Julian Bond Headlines Houston Community College Event
February 27, 2011

Former NAACP Board Chairman Julian Bond was the keynote speaker at the Houston Community College Black History Gala on Friday, February 26.

An author and  founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Bond has been an  active and outspoken warrior in the movements for civil rights and  economic justice.  Bond is also a professor at the University of Virginia.

The event, which drew hundreds of people from across the community, served as a fundraiser for Houston Community College student scholarships.

Last year, 13 HCC students received a $1,000 each to cover the cost of tuition and books.

Faces in the crowd included: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee,  State Rep. Borris Miles and wife Cydoni, Houston city council member Wanda Adams and staff, HCC trustee Dr. Michael P. Williams, KPRC-TV meteorologist Khambrel Marshall, Carolyn Campbell, Debra McGaughey, Yolanda Smith, Lisa Whitlock and Carol Mims Galloway.

KPRC Reporter Robert Arnold Ties The Knot
February 26, 2011

Congratulations to KPRC Local 2 Investigative Reporter Robert Arnold.  Robert recently tied the knot with his lovely fiancée, Jennifer.

The two were married last weekend at the Four Seasons.  The beautiful ceremony was witnessed by many of  Robert’s close friends and coworkers at Channel 2.

All of us wish Robert and Jennifer a lifetime of love and happiness.

Harris County Detention Officer Fired
February 25, 2011

 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION RESULTS IN INDICTMENT AND TERMINATION OF DETENTION OFFICER

 

(HOUSTON, TX) – A detention officer at the Harris County Jail has been charged with official oppression after exposing himself to a female inmate. His employment at the Harris County Jail has been terminated.

Drake Jackson, 40, is accused of sexually offensive behavior while in the presence of a female inmate. The inmate made an outcry to jail personnel earlier this month and an investigation was immediately conducted by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) Criminal Investigations Bureau. The result of the investigation was presented to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office which filed the charge of official oppression against Mr. Jackson.

“I will not tolerate any misconduct from anyone on my staff“, said Sheriff Adrian Garcia. “I commend the victim in this case for speaking up and I encourage anyone else who may find themselves in a similar situation to do the same, whether they’re in my custody or not.”

The HCSO has a zero tolerance policy and will investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct.  

Drake Jackson is free after posting a $1,000 non-arrest bond. He had been employed by the HCSO since 2003

Governor Perry Appoints Mayor Parker to Task Force on Unfunded Mandates
February 25, 2011

UPDATE: I received several phone messages and emails about a mistake I made in this blog. I accidentally and unintentionally referred to Mayor Annise Parker as Mayor Sullivan. Due to a busy work and community involvement schedule in the past 24 hours, I have only now logged into my blog/listened to messages and read emails. I corrected it immediately.

Some have questioned whether it was intentional. Come on people. This blog is tied to my job at Channel 2. I have a wicked sense of humor, but I’m not going to jeopardize my employment(and ability to pay my mortgage and my dog’s grooming) by intentionally getting caught in a political battle between city council member Mike Sullivan and Mayor Parker.

My sincerest apology to Mayor PARKER.  I regret the error.

( BLOG POST)

We frequently hear local elected officials complain about unfunded mandates.

Those are  new regulations imposed by state lawmakers  onto local governments and school districts, but without the money needed to implement the changes. 

Those conditions create a big economic hardship during a time when many communities are dealing with budget problems.

Governor Perry announced today that he has appointed Houston Mayor Annise Parker and Houston city council member Mike Sullivan to a task force to identify burdensome mandates.

 (News Release From Governor’s Office) 

Gov. Perry Announces Formation of Task Force on Unfunded Mandates to

Identify Burdensome Mandates on Local Governments

Task force will issue report to the governor in March 

AUSTIN – Gov. Rick Perry has announced the formation of the bipartisan Task Force on Unfunded Mandates, which will identify burdensome unfunded mandates that have been passed down from the state to local governments, such as cities, counties and school districts. The task force will make their recommendations to the governor in March on how to best alleviate these burdens on local entities. 

“As we look for ways to streamline government and ensure the most prudent use of taxpayer dollars, we should also ensure we are not burdening local authorities with unfunded mandates as they face their own budget challenges,” Gov. Perry said. “I look forward to receiving the recommendations from this bipartisan task force featuring local officials who understand the needs of their communities, as removing these extra costs will help local governments better and more efficiently serve their constituents.”

 The task force members are as follows:

 Annise Parker – Mayor, City of Houston

John Cook – Mayor, City of El Paso

Bob Holder – Comal County Sheriff

Susan Narvaiz – former Mayor, City of San Marcos 

Mike Sullivan – Houston City Councilman

Carlos Cascos – Cameron County Judge

Keith Self – Collin County Judge

Brett Ligon – Montgomery County District Attorney 

Mary Ann Whiteker – Hudson Independent School District Superintendent

Rodeo Houston BBQ Draws Big Crowd
February 25, 2011

Can you smell the delicious aroma of brisket, chicken, ribs, sausage and wild game?

The  2011 World’s Largest Championship BBQ contest kicked off at Rodeo Houston Thursday night.

 

Thousands of people partied under the white tents that are setup on the Reliant Park Grounds.

Each tent is hosted by corporate and/or individual sponsors who supply their invited guests with three days of  food, fun, dancing and drinks. 

I had a chance to stop by the Clear Channel Outlaws and the 2 Steppers tents. 

Both were packed with people having a great time enjoying another year of a great Rodeo Houston tradition.

Last year a record 221, 229 people enjoyed the bar-be-que which is promoted as three days of cooking, competition, eating and dancing.

This year the BBQ ends on Saturday. The general public is always invited to the bar-be-que and carnival, but to get into the private tents you must have a wristband or invitation.

Did A Houston City Council Member Violate Ethics Rules?
February 23, 2011

Houston City Council member Jolanda “Jo” Jones is no stranger to controversy.  Just recently she was cleared by the Office of  Inspector General following allegations of misconduct during a visit to fire station #8.

Now she is facing new allegations of misconduct.

This time from the Houston Police Officers Union and some fellow members of  city council.  They’re accusing Jones of using her city council position to get new business for her private law practice and foster a climate of mistrust between the community and Houston police officers.

The controversy began when Jones handed out flyers at two community meetings organized to discuss allegations of police brutality and the videotaped beating of teen burglary suspect Chad Holley.

The Jones’ flyer has several tips under the headline “Know Your Rights With The Police.”

It states that people should never  speak to police or sign a consent to search.

Jones encourages people to contact their lawyer. 

However, what some find even more troubling is that Jones listed her business phone number for legal services and her city council number for people to report misconduct.

 In an interview that aired on Channel 2, Jones told me that she doesn’t see a conflict of interest and that she believes it’s important for people to know their constitutional rights when interacting with the police.

Meanwhile, several sources have told me they asked for the Office of Inspector General, County Attorney and the State Bar of Texas to investigate Jones.

Stay tuned. Jones insists she has done nothing wrong and believes the allegations are designed to serve as a distraction from some of the bigger problems facing HPD.

Rep. Reynolds Files Mandatory Meningitis Legislation
February 23, 2011

(News Release)

AUSTIN, Texas (Feb. 22, 2011) — Today, Rep. Ron Reynolds (D – District 27, Fort Bend) filed HB 1557 requiring all incoming college students to be vaccinated for bacterial meningitis. Currently, only students who live on campus in student housing are required to get the meningococcal vaccine. 

 Last week, a Texas A&M junior from Sugar Land, Texas, who did not live on campus, suffered from bacterial meningitis and died in a College Station hospital. “When a student dies from the area I represent, it really hits home that we need to change the law to include that all college students need to be vaccinated,” said Rep. Reynolds.  Since the student was not living in a dorm on campus, he was not required to be vaccinated.  Rep. Reynolds said, “We need to pass this bill to save lives on college campuses and HB 1557 will help accomplish that.”  

Bacterial meningitis is an inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord, but the early symptoms can mimic the flu. According to the CDC, about 10 percent of people who get infected with bacterial meningitis die, in spite of treatment with antibiotics.  Even students who do not live in a dorm are at risk since they are still in close proximity to other students in the classroom, the library and other campus settings.       

“I am appreciative that Chairman Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) has joint authored this legislation with me, and I look forward to working with him in a by-partisan manner to pass this important life saving legislation,” Rep. Reynolds concluded.     

 About State Representative Ron Reynolds

Ron Reynolds is State Representative for District 27 of Fort Bend County in Texas. Rep. Reynolds serves on the Economic and Small Business Development and Environmental Regulation committees.  He is a former Associate Municipal Judge for The City of Houston.  For more information, please visit: www.ronaldreynolds.com

Sam Houston State joins on-line learning consortium
February 22, 2011

My mailbox has been filling up lately with a lot of great news about Sam Houston State University.

I haven’t been able to post everything, but I’m attaching a news release today about a new program designed to enhance online learning at the university.

HUNTSVILLE, TX -Sam Houston State University has joined a consortium with 10 other universities in a collaborative effort to improve and implement high quality, large-scale online and blended learning programs.

Sam Houston State offers more than a dozen complete graduate  programs online, including the MBA, an Executive MBA, teacher certification and  master’s in criminal justice leadership and management designed exclusively for military police officers.

Sam Houston State associate vice president for SHSU Online Bill Angrove said he and others at SHSU are delighted to join the group, the New Century Learning Consortium.   

“The university recognizes the need for inter-institutional cooperation.  We are very interested in efforts to promote degree completion and faculty exchange,” he said.

The Consortium was founded at The University of Illinois Springfield.

“We are pleased to have Sam Houston State University join the New Century Learning Consortium.  This award-winning university has been recognized by Princeton Review and PC Magazine as one of the “Most Wired” colleges in the nation.  Founded in 1879, SHSU brings a long tradition of excellence in education to the consortium,” said Shari McCurdy Smith, NCLC director and associate director of the Center for Online Learning, Research, and Service at UIS.

The consortium plans to expand to 14 institutions by May, she said.

Consortium activities include developing a clearinghouse of online classes where there is excess capacity; shared research projects; shared IT expertise to support building infrastructure capacity; and peer support at the upper administration, dean, and faculty member levels. NCLC was founded using a grant from the Sloan Consortium, who is also funding for the expansion.

“Sam Houston State University has an outstanding online learning program, said Ray Schroeder, founder of NCLC. “We are excited that SHSU will bring their leadership and experience.”

Current members are University of Illinois Springfield; California State University East Bay, Hayward; Southern Oregon University, Ashland; Chicago State University, Illinois; Oakland University, Rochester Hills, Michigan; University of Southern Maine, Portland; Louisiana Tech University, Ruston; SUNY Empire State College, Saratoga Springs; Hampton University, Hampton, Virginia; and the University of Minnesota, Crookston.